It took me years to understand that our utmost responsibility is, first and foremost, to ourselves. Before anything else, you need to get your needs met so you can realize your purpose in life. For many years, I believed my life served a purpose, higher and bigger than myself. I know many creative leaders of all kinds live this way.
We were taught to serve a purpose higher and bigger than ourselves was a good and noble idea. Based on my experience, realizing ideas and projects bigger than myself was utterly rewarding at times. Most of the time, though, it was pretty exhausting and overwhelming.
Years passed of me slightly burning out each time, getting to the final stretch with less and less energy to enjoy the fact that we made it. Not to mention leading my teams with confidence and celebration of our way to the finish line.
My point here is this – if you can’t get your basic needs met on the way to realizing your purpose in life, you may as well rethink your life journey. I think it’s better to do that before you embark than after, when your commitments to others and the project accumulate from day to day.
To get your needs met, you need to know what they are. Your needs are your own. I, for example, know that a good night’s sleep is essential for me to be able to do my work. I also know I need some “me time,” meaning time for myself, away from other people. Meditating, journaling, going for a walk, or a hike out in nature.
Abraham Maslow proposed his hierarchy of needs in a paper in 1943 – “A theory of human motivation.” His ranking, based on a division between deficiency needs and growth needs, shows the correlation between motivation and effort in human behavior.
One may criticize Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as much as one wants, but it illustrates my point clearly: self-actualization comes after getting all other physiological and psychological needs met. The first two levels are called basic needs, and when this hierarchy is demonstrated as it so often does with a pyramid, the first two levels are at the bottom. The following two levels are defined as psychological needs, and the top is self-fulfillment needs.
I say get your basic needs met first, air, sleep, water, food…Then get your individual emotional needs met, those you know about at least, which are the key to being able to sustain enough energy, and drive to realize your important work in the world.
If you feel you need some help with ordering your priorities and getting your needs met so you can do your important work in the world. Check out and apply to my new program for 2023: